Lot 7
  • 7

ALEXEJ VON JAWLENSKY | Abstrakter Kopf: Klarheit (Abstract Head: Lucidity)

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexej Jawlensky
  • Abstrakter Kopf: Klarheit (Abstract Head: Lucidity)
  • signed A.J. (lower left) and dated X 25 (lower right); signed A. v. Jawlensky and inscribed Klarheit on the reverse
  • oil on board laid down on panel
  • 42.2 by 32.7cm.
  • 16 5/8 by 12 7/8 in.
  • Painted in October 1925.


Estate of the artist (until at least 1965) Siegfried Adler, Lucerne

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1969


Geneva, Galerie Krugier, Alexej Jawlensky, 1963, no. 46 (titled Klarheit) Los Angeles, Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Alexej and Andreas Jawlensky, 1964

New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, A Centennial Exhibition of Paintings by Alexej Jawlensky, 1965, no. 50 (titled Constructive Head - Klarheit)


Artist's handlist (Cahier Noir), listed p. 16 Clemens Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 302, illustrated p. 249 (titled Klarheit)

Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky: Heads, Faces, Meditations, London, 1971, no. 231, listed p. 124

Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 1991, vol. II, no. 1243, illustrated in colour p. 389

Catalogue Note

Jawlensky’s mature work was dominated by several series of paintings on the theme of the human face, throughout which his treatment of the features becomes increasingly stylised and abstracted. The present work belongs to the series of Abstract Heads, characterised by a grid of predominantly horizontal and vertical lines and brightly painted blocks of pigment. The typically long, U-shaped face with a strong symmetrical structure was first conceived in 1918, and Jawlensky worked on this series until 1935. A growing interest in Indian philosophy and the life of Indian yogis appear to have had a strong influence on the series, as suggested by the meditative closed eyes and the overall reduction of the composition to the purest pictorial elements of colour and line. Gradually abandoning the signs of individuality and character, and focusing on the formal elements in his painting, in his mature work, such as Abstrakter Kopf: Klarheit, Jawlensky arrived at a style through which he was able to convey a sense of harmony and universal spirituality.  

His use of anonymous heads to express the power of colour and line reflects Jawlensky’s belief that ‘human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in them – the life of colour, seized with a lover’s passion’ (quoted in C. Weiler, op. cit., 1971, p. 12). Another important influence on Jawlensky’s form of abstraction was the multi-dimensional approach of the Cubists, whose fragmented and highly abstracted compositions he had seen in Paris. As Clemens Weiler has noted: ‘Cubism, with which he became acquainted in 1910, supplied Jawlensky with the means of simplifying, condensing and stylizing the facial form even further, and this simplified and reduced shape he counterbalanced by means of even more intense and brilliant colouring. This enabled him to give these comparatively small heads a monumentality and expressive power that were quite independent of their actual size’ (ibid., p. 14).